Grilling Basics – Become the next family Grill-Master

By Purex | May. 28, 2014 | Family Life, Tips & Tricks

Summer ads and magazines are filled with articles about backyard barbecues. Whether they’re recipe pieces or long how-to articles, most of them are directed toward people who own gas grills. These high-tech grillers can produce huge and tasty meals for the family, but what about the retro charcoal grill?
You don’t get much more basic than a container to hold hot coals and a grate to keep food above them, but this classic combination has been a backyard favorite for decades. Tap into your inner backyard chef and learn to do barbecue the way it was meant to be.
Light Your Fire
The old-school method of lighting a charcoal grill is to make a pile of briquettes, soak them with lighter fluid, and set a match on the corner. Once the giant fireball calms down, the coals will heat in time to cook your food. The problem is that some of the lighter fluid taste still remains, just hanging around to flavor your food. Instead use a charcoal chimney, either a commercial model or a homemade one. Crumble a ball of newspaper at the bottom and fill the chimney with briquettes or charcoal chunks. Light the newspaper through the vents at the bottom. The fire will spread upwards through the stack of coal until it reaches the top. When the coals on the top of the heap start getting gray edges, pull up the chimney and let them spread out.
The Cooking Zones
Cooking on a grill needs more than one temperature, just like cooking on a stove does. Create three zones in your barbecue grill by spreading a double layer of hot coals on one side of the base, a single layer in the middle third, and leave the last third empty. You can use the hottest portion to sear steaks and chicken, and to cook burgers and sausages. The middle zone is perfect for cooking meat slower and finishing off thicker chicken breasts or beef hunks. Keep cooked food warm on the last zone, or use it in an emergency when foods start to cook too quickly.
Indirect Grilling
Sometimes you want to cook something more impressive than a burger on your barbecue grill, something that takes a long time to complete. With indirect grilling, you can cook whole chickens, pork shoulders, rump roasts, or complete turkey breasts. Start the coals with a chimney starter in the same way as before, but spread the coals on either side of the center when they’re hot. Leave the center as an empty zone. If you want a tasty, smoky flavor, soak wood chips in water and toss them on top of the hot coals. Add the grate and arrange the food on top of the center area. Close the lid on the grill and leave it alone for an hour. After that time, open the lid and add a dozen pieces of fresh charcoal, leaving the lid open until the coal is burning. Close the lid again, and repeat this until the meat is tender and cooked through.
Grilling Isn’t Just for Meat
Why go through all the time and trouble to make a great grill full of coals, only to fix all your side dishes in the kitchen? Take advantage of the heating space and cook corn on the cob, foil packets full of chopped vegetables, baked potatoes, and even shish kebab sticks filled with cubed fruit and angel food cake for dessert. And of course, at the end of the day, the classic end of any barbecue meal should be toasted marshmallows, either hot off the stick or eaten in s’mores.
Clean up & Maintenance
Tackling the mess sooner rather than later is not only good for your grill but for the future cleanliness of your next meal. After you’ve enjoyed your amazing dinner, and the grill has cooled down to a temperature that you can safely touch the grill wires, start your clean up routine. With a wire brush rake the grill wires to scrape off any excess grease or food particles. Any accessories such as tongs or spatulas should we washed and stored clean. And that favorite apron you’re wearing, the one that says “Grill-Master”, keep it bright and clean with Purex detergent, and if you encounter some tough stains, pretreat with Zout stain remover before washing.